Do you ever find yourself saying? “I’ve tried everything...how is it possible that my child is not more kind, more grateful, more respectful, more confident?”
So we keep reminding them of how disrespectful or ungrateful they are, hoping to turn the behavior around.
Why doesn't it work? Because children are our expectations.
What is it?
Our job is to educate our children. The root of the word education comes from Latin words which essentially mean draw forth and nourish or bring up.
Huh? So our role is to nourish the good qualities and draw out the best in them?
How to address it?
Yes. And we do this by holding them in the highest version of themselves: let them know that we know they are grateful, kind, respectful, responsible....
When you are telling your child to be respectful while thinking “how in the world is he so disrespectful?” or Why is she such a brat?”, it’s the energy behind the messaging that comes through.
They see it in your eyes, they ‘get’ it at a cellular level. And then they take on our expectations and opinions of them.
You're thinking...BUT MY CHILD IS SO DISRESPECTFUL...WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD I TELL HER SHE'S RESPECTFUL?!?
I get that. It goes completely against what logic tells us.
This is why: their behaviors are distinct from their true selves. Have you ever acted in a way that doesn’t represent the 'real' you?
They are not their actions nor their (mis)behaviors.
They are good, good kids but their brains are developing and emotions get in the way.
Your Script in Action
Instead of: That was not very nice of you to push that other boy at recess. Why do you have to be so mean?
Try: I know you're such a respectful boy - so that boy must have really hurt your feelings.
Instead of: She’s your sister, and we are not allowed to treat siblings like that in this house!
Try: "I’ve seen you be so kind and generous to your sister - something must really have upset you.”
I don’t care if you don’t like the present, you go and thank your grandmother right now!
Try: "I know you're feeling grateful inside even if you didn’t really want socks for Christmas - it’s hard for all of us to remember to express that.”
GOT A MINUTE?
If you can catch yourself feeling exasperated, try the approaches to remind them of their goodness (and, well, to remind yourself too). If you notice that they respond better, your brain will start wiring in a new habit.
PS. Did this resonate? Having a hard time getting a child to listen? or be respectful? Join my (free) private Facebook Group where I offer free resources and support to help you get your parenting back on track: more calm and cooperation, with the connection you want....and they need. Join here.